Musical Fidelity V-DAC D/A processor
The New York Times reported that more than 3000 foreigners had abandoned their cars at Dubai airport (footnote 1). Deep in debt and out of work, had they stayed they could have been thrown into debtor's prison, just as in the London of 200 and 300 years ago. (Charles Dickens's father languished in debtor's prison. So did Samuel Johnson, until a friend sprang him. The Debtor's Act of 1869 abolished this.)
Mercedes, BMWs, even Maseratis . . . abandoned in the dust.
I'll bet a lot of high-end hi-fi was left behind, too. Dubai was a hot spot for expensive hi-fi, as I heard several years ago when I met one of Dubai's leading audio distributors. If you made a $107,000/pair loudspeaker, you could surely sell it there. The sands of time have probably stopped that.
Talk about economic stimulusdebtor's prisons are a capital idea. The US already imprisons one adult in 100, according to the organization In The Fray. For once, we have the infrastructure. Why not imprison those who default on their mortgages or fail to pay their credit cards? The economy would gain two ways: from all the new prison cells that would have to be built, and from a smaller labor force, which would lead to a drop in unemployment and a general rise in wages. The surplus children left behind? Sell them for adoption and reap the revenue. I am surpised my fellow Republicans haven't thought of this.
Things are rough in Russia, too, but I haven't heard of any debtors' prisons there yet. A lot of high-end hi-fi used to be sold there, too. Sources tell me that at least one Russian distributor has gone belly-upbankrot!
According to the New York Post, "Moneybags Muscovite playboy Mikhail Prokhorov . . . [is] trying to back out of a deal to buy the world's most expensive mansion on the French Riviera. Last year, he thought nothing of making a deal to pay $634 million for the Villa Leopolda. But after losing $8 billion of his $20 billion net worth, Prokhorov is trying to get back his $49 million deposit." (footnote 2)
I wonder if he's asked for his deposit back on those $107,000 speakers he just ordered. Only kidding. But Prokhorov isor wasthat sort of customer.
Another Mr. Moneybags, former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is languishing in one of Putin's prisons. (Russians have always known how to use prisons.) He couldn't take his hi-fi along, assuming he had one. And no CDs or DVDs, which can be weaponized.
Still, hi-fi manufacturers continue to introduce hyperexpensive products as if nothing has changed. Take British manufacturer Antony Michaelson, of Musical Fidelity. He recently announced his Primo tubed preamp for £7900, and a Titan power amp for £19,999 (about $11,300 and $28,600, respectively, at recent rates of exchange). Maybe he'll be able to sell them somewhere in the world. If not Dubai, then perhaps Shanghai or Mumbai. But I think the jig is up everywhere. It's about time.
Several months earlier, Antony did something entirely different. Last fall, in what later seemed an act of astonishing prescience, he introduced his V series of mini-componentsdays, if not hours, before the worldwide economic collapse. The V models are so cheap and so small that Antony can't bring himself to call them components. They come blister-packed for retailers to hang on the accessories rack. Pick and pull.
This is as if the watchmaker Patek Phillippe had decided to take over Timexyou know, to sell to the very top and very bottom of the watch market. Has this really happened to hi-fithat there's no middle any more?
I don't think so. Meanwhile, frugality can be fun, and there's still stuff to buybesides shaving brushes and toothbrushes.
Musical Fidelity V Series
Last month, I cackled as I wrote up the little Sony XDR-F1HD HD Radio tuner, which sells for under $100. It's given me more pleasure than any other tuner I've had. I hope it outlives Sony's 90-day warranty. (By the time you read this, it already has.) Now I take glee in writing about Antony Michaelson's new V series. Here's Antony, on his website, writing in Vox Pop mode:
"Most high-end components offer incredibly bad value. [Tell that to John Atkinson or Michael Fremer.ST] Why do we say this? Because . . . about four to five percent of the cost of good value high-end electronics is in the actual electronics that do the work. The other 95% of the cost is in the metalwork and other items that don't contribute to sound production or sound quality. Basically, high-end is a lot of show and not much go for a huge cost."
Footnote 1: Robert F. Worth, "Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down," New York Times, February 12, 2009.
Footnote 2: Todd Venezia, "Russian Reneging on Record $634m House Buy," New York Post, February 20, 2009.